Saturday, May 13, 2006

Sooner, rather than later

David Cone had just made his impressive spring debut in 1987 the day before when Doc Gooden went to rehab for the first time. He would be gone until June, and by that time, Cone, Sid Fernandez and Bobby Ojeda had been lost for a significant periods of time. Although a furious surge would take place in the dwindling days of September, a chance to repeat as World Champions was lost before June when the rotation was in shambles.
To be blunt, it takes much from an everyday line-up when a rotation isn't consistently keeping the team in the game. The frequency of early leads and first inning scoring will lessen. Late inning comebacks will become increasingly rare. A pendulum shift of momentum occurs.
So with a lead that once was felt would only grow, two injuries in a rotation prompted a shrinking to two games. Jose Lima's start last Sunday-a loss-was followed by another loss in Philadelphia. That was a Pedro Martinez start. Today journeyman Jeremi Gonzalez goes against a greatly improved Milwaukee Brewers team. Fortunately he will be faced by Dana Eveland who's making his first appearance of the season. He was unremarkable in 27 games last season with an ERA just under 6.00. This game has the makings of lots of scoring in the first half and a bullpen duel during the final four innings. The current configuration of the staff promises more games as this, and the bullpen won't be able to sustain its early season excellence. This is characteristic of a club which plays below .500. So don't expect the Mets to take this path for long.
Its unlikely Lima will get many more shots and his lack of success doesn't figure to allow Gonzalez a long leash either. As the price for a starter of significance such as Livan Hernandez is currently prohibitive, a meeting that will be held soon to determine a course of action. If the powers that be decide its too soon for Mike Pelfrey or Alay Soler, then the only course of action left is for Aaron Heilman to return to the rotation. And sooner, rather than later.

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